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Surgeon fights suspension following death of Dagenham grandmother

PUBLISHED: 12:18 06 February 2009 | UPDATED: 11:18 11 August 2010

A leading surgeon suspended for 10 months following the death of a patient is bidding to lift the blot on his career at London s High Court. Lawyers for Timothy Cheatle are arguing that in May 2007 the General Medical Council was wrong to find his fitnes

A leading surgeon suspended for 10 months following the death of a patient is bidding to lift the blot on his career at London's High Court.

Lawyers for Timothy Cheatle are arguing that in May 2007 the General Medical Council was wrong to find his "fitness to practice" had been impaired over treatment of Mildred Swain in April 2002.

Mrs Swain, a 77-year-old great-grandmother of Dagenham, died on April 27, 2002, during surgery to tackle an infection which had developed in the aftermath of an artery by-pass operation.

Mrs Swain had been operated on by Mr Cheatle, of Cardigan Road, Bow, at Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, in a bid to by-pass a blocked artery in her thigh.

But the artificial graft used became infected and although she was discharged on April 16, she returned a week later.

Barrister Robert Francis QC, for the surgeon, said although Mr Cheatle initially faced a number of serious allegations, many were dropped by the time the GMC had heard all the evidence.

Essentially, the GMC found that:

l Mr Cheatle had failed to properly explain alternative treatment options and the risks of the initial operation

l Had not properly followed up a wound swab taken after the first operation.

l Had not given Mrs Swain good enough care when she was re-admitted to hospital following the operation.

Mr Francis now wants those findings overturned, and says Mr Cheatle's fitness to practice wasn't impaired.

He claims the GMC's Fitness to Practice Panel had placed too much reliance on the evidence of Mrs Swain's daughter, Malita McDermott.

Blaming a "system failure" for what happened to Mrs Swain when she was readmitted, Mr Francis added that "no one" had informed Mr Cheatle of the pensioner's deterioration.

He also said that Mr Cheatle was working under incredible pressure, and was responsible for up to 80 patients across a number of different hospitals.

Mr Francis added that even if the findings were upheld by the High Court, he should not have been suspended, and certainly not for 10 months.

The hearing continues and top judge, Mr Justice Cranston, is expected to reserve his decision until a later date.


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